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Re: HLPE consultation on the V0 draft of the Report: Investing in smallholder agriculture for food and nutrition security

“Food for the Cities” multidisciplinary initiative FAO, Italy
FSN Forum

Contribution to the FSN Forum on:

HLPE consultation on the V0 draft of the Report: Investing in smallholder agriculture for food and nutrition security

from the “Food for the Cities” multidisciplinary initiative:

Matthias Radek (intern), Makiko Taguchi (co-secretary Food for the Cities/Growing Greener Cities), Julien Custot (facilitator Food for the Cities)


We want to acknowledge the comprehensive and extensive work for the zero draft.

With the continuous growth of cities, urbanization challenges will affect smallholders’ activities in urban and peri-urban areas and will have an impact on food, agriculture and management of natural resources in these spaces. Not surprisingly, urban issues are often mentioned in the document (for instance in the introduction chapter, in chapter 2.1.2, 3.4).

We would like to support this focus and bring in some short remarks and additions regarding the specific issue of smallholders, farmers and processors, in urban- and peri-urban areas as it could be better reflected in the publication. The zero-draft consultation paper “Investing in smallholder agriculture for food and nutrition security” could explicitly take into account the specificities and particular importance of urban and peri-urban smallholders, which differs from rural smallholders in many ways. Furthermore, smallholder farmers in urban and peri-urban contexts continue to be largely absent from urban policy tables. Their importance therefore needs to be highlighted.

By now, food produced from urban and peri- urban agriculture (UPA) is making a significant contribution to urban food consumption and supply. UPA is on the rise in many regions of the world. In the context of rapid urbanization, urban and peri-urban smallholder producers and processors will play an increasingly important role with regard to production, processing and delivery of sustainable, affordable and safe food for growing urban populations. Through the supply of fresh food, smallholders in urban and peri-urbain areas directly contribute to better nutrition and sustainable diets. In this context, also the importance of rural-urban linkages for sustainable food and nutrition security in urbanizing spaces should be mentioned.

Further assets of UPA are, among others, the creation of jobs, especially for the youth. UPA also contributes to sustainable management of urban open spaces, which can impact urban micro-climate and which will be crucial for climate change adaptation measures in urban areas (e.g. landslide prevention through terracing, watershed management through urban forestry etc.). Smallholders involved in UPA can thereby, contribute to reducing risks evolving from natural hazards, by, at the same time making cities more resilient to climate change.

Various interventions on how to strengthen urban smallholders are proposed in the “The urban producer’s resource book. A practical guide for working with Low Income Urban and Peri-Urban Producers Organizations” FAO, Rome (2007):. The document is available online:

Below are presenting some options for additional inclusions to the VO 0 Draft document:

Smallholder agriculture: the way ahead (page 10)

12. At global level, rural and urban smallholder agriculture contributes in a massive, indispensable and strategic way to food and nutrition security.

14. However, the actual and potential contributions of smallholders are generally poorly understood and they have been too frequently neglected in policy and public investment. Hence, there is an urgent need for greater attention to investment in rural and urban smallholder agriculture.

X. Political support has to consider the different specificities and dimensions of smallholders activities, bridging the gap between:

- rural and urban and peri-urban agriculture,

- food production and food processing

It should then be reflected at policy level and action reflect in their programs.

Recommendation framework (page 11)

18. At the national level, a National Smallholder Vision and Strategic Framework is to be elaborated that is country specific, comprehensive, and broadly owned. Smallholders and their organizations are to have an important role and voice in the elaboration of such a program. The program proposes how to tackle the specific and diverse constraints that smallholder agriculture is suffering.

19. The National Vision and Strategic Framework has to consider the different ways agriculture is structured and the different types of holdings ranging from smallholder agriculture to more structured and consolidated family farming structures up to corporations and agro-industries. This may result in bimodal structure like in countries like Brazil, or in unimodal type like Viet-Nam or Mali for instance. Even, in case of a unimodal structure type, diversity is to be accounted for, since smallholder agriculture present a high level of heterogeneity taking into account the rural and peri-urban dimension of smallholder agriculture and food processing and vending.

Specific recommendations (page 14)

32. The further improvement of productivity and resilience remains to be of utmost importance. Here it is strategic that agricultural research and technology development are far more oriented at the real situation (and the possibilities and limitations it entails) of smallholders considering its diverse characteristics for rural and urban and peri-urban areas. It also requires strengthened and adapted extension services. Access to inputs has to be facilitated when necessary while avoiding excessive external dependency. Policies and tools are needed to monitor, prevent and manage technical risks (climatic, plant pests and animal diseases). Far more attention is to be given to transport facilities that fit in the smallholder situation, as well as to processing technologies that might be connected to, or integrated in, smallholder agriculture.